I have a question for the Smoothbore crowd

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My question is, how "accurate" can a smoothbore be when hunting Deer… I kind of want one gun for everything as my budget is now very tight sadly
If you plan to do any reenacting, buy a smoothbore to suit that- Brown Bess or English-style Fowler are best for the broadest range of late 18th century stuff. If not, it opens the field. My first loves are my Brown Besses, but I recently acquired a secondhand fusil de chasse, and the first time I ever fired her I was able to hit a coffee can dead centre at 50 yards with my first two rounds. 20 ga is big enough for anything you’ll ever have a chance to shoot in North America, and cheaper to run than a bigger gun. Whatever you pick, look for the sticky post about the Skychief Load- it’s supposed to be big medicine for turkeys. Not that I have convinced one to let me try yet… 🤣
Jay
 
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If you want to shoot round ball a lot, stick with a 20 bore. A 12 bore loses its fun factor quickly. Most deer are shot at around 35 yards, regardless of firearm type. A smoothbore will handle that easily.
Much depends on what part of the country you live in. In a dense forest in the East 35 yards may be normal. In the forests in the mid-west and out west 50 yards would normally be considered a very close shot. For Mulley generally 75+ yards. This country is so big with various cover, sizes of deer etc. it is very hard to generalize.
Doc,
 

maillemaker

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In NSSA competition, shooters regularly put 5 shots in a 4” circle offhand at 25 yards. Often less than that. At 50 yards inside a 6” or smaller circle. This is with optimized target loads. I shoot a .678 round ball roughed up in a Vortex Ball Roller with 70 grains 3F Goex.
 
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In NSSA competition, shooters regularly put 5 shots in a 4” circle offhand at 25 yards. Often less than that. At 50 yards inside a 6” or smaller circle. This is with optimized target loads. I shoot a .678 round ball roughed up in a Vortex Ball Roller with 70 grains 3F Goex.
In far northern Ca. we have a very large amount of tradegun shooters. On the first shot of the trail walk you’re always shooting at the tie breaker which is usually about 18to 25 yards. You need to hit a one inch Circle. Normally at least half will hit it. Non of us know about NSSA or where it is. But 5 shots in 4 in. Is not that had for many of us.
Doc,
 

skwerleater

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If you are going to get a smoothbore, try to handle the different types folks here have mentioned. You will probably find that one type fits you better than others. I prefer the English patter stock for a fowling piece for birds, but my go to piece is more of a smooth rifle in style which I use for squirrels n deer. Good luck and don’t rush into anything, these items are not inexpensive.
 

toot

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there is a great amount of difference between .570 & .610. like putting 10 LBS. of dodo in a 5 LBS. bag. can't be accomplished without a GREAT AMOUNT OF EFFORT!!!
 

Brokennock

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In the forests in the mid-west and out west 50 yards would normally be considered a very close shot. For Mulley generally 75+ yards
And yet,,, somehow, archers manage to get the job done. Midwest, open timber, plains, sage flats and prairies, the varied terrain including muskeg of Alaska, all types of terrain and cover.

Seems like once a fella gets a gun in his hands,,, his brain tells him that shots closer than 50 yards are impossible to get unless the woods are doghair thick.
Next he goes to bragging about the far shot he got that buck with, instead of how close he managed to get. (Not accusing you of that, just am example of the things I see happen or written) Or telling folks that once they leave the dense woods they can't get rhe job done without a rifle that can, "reach out there," as they say.

O.p. think like an archer, hunt like an archer, and you'll get your game with that smoothbore. Yes, you will have to pass some shots. Yes, you will see game you can't get a shot at. It's part of the deal and can be part of the allure.
What is better to hear or tell, the story of that 100 yard or more shot on an animal, that 300+ yard shot at an animal that had no chance to know the shooter was there,,,, or the tale of that hunter who snuck in, or did his homework and was able to position himself, to 75, 50, or less yards,,,, even if at the last moment the breeze turned traitor and blew the whole thing at the last second?

Something else I always ask hunters starting down the road of archery hunting or smoothbores regarding range. At what distance can you see a stick or something that could deflect your arrow or ball? Even if your bow or smoothbore is dialed in for that 75 or 100 yard shot, if you can't see that stick at 50 yards,,, should you be shooting at a living animal past that?
 

waksupi

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Much depends on what part of the country you live in. In a dense forest in the East 35 yards may be normal. In the forests in the mid-west and out west 50 yards would normally be considered a very close shot. For Mulley generally 75+ yards. This country is so big with various cover, sizes of deer etc. it is very hard to generalize.
Doc,
Well, I've killed antelope with smooth bores. None were over 70 yards. Gotta be sneaky. I'm in Montana, so am familiar with people lobbing shots a long way.
 
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And yet,,, somehow, archers manage to get the job done. Midwest, open timber, plains, sage flats and prairies, the varied terrain including muskeg of Alaska, all types of terrain and cover.

Seems like once a fella gets a gun in his hands,,, his brain tells him that shots closer than 50 yards are impossible to get unless the woods are doghair thick.
Next he goes to bragging about the far shot he got that buck with, instead of how close he managed to get. (Not accusing you of that, just am example of the things I see happen or written) Or telling folks that once they leave the dense woods they can't get rhe job done without a rifle that can, "reach out there," as they say.

O.p. think like an archer, hunt like an archer, and you'll get your game with that smoothbore. Yes, you will have to pass some shots. Yes, you will see game you can't get a shot at. It's part of the deal and can be part of the allure.
What is better to hear or tell, the story of that 100 yard or more shot on an animal, that 300+ yard shot at an animal that had no chance to know the shooter was there,,,, or the tale of that hunter who snuck in, or did his homework and was able to position himself, to 75, 50, or less yards,,,, even if at the last moment the breeze turned traitor and blew the whole thing at the last second?

Something else I always ask hunters starting down the road of archery hunting or smoothbores regarding range. At what distance can you see a stick or something that could deflect your arrow or ball? Even if your bow or smoothbore is dialed in for that 75 or 100 yard shot, if you can't see that stick at 50 yards,,, should you be shooting at a living animal past that?
Well said, personally I’ve taken a Mulley under 50 with my Tradegun. But it’s not the norm. In the open country the Mulley’s prefer it becomes quite difficult.
Doc,
 

R Ellis

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And yet,,, somehow, archers manage to get the job done. Midwest, open timber, plains, sage flats and prairies, the varied terrain including muskeg of Alaska, all types of terrain and cover.

Seems like once a fella gets a gun in his hands,,, his brain tells him that shots closer than 50 yards are impossible to get unless the woods are doghair thick.
Next he goes to bragging about the far shot he got that buck with, instead of how close he managed to get. (Not accusing you of that, just am example of the things I see happen or written) Or telling folks that once they leave the dense woods they can't get rhe job done without a rifle that can, "reach out there," as they say.

O.p. think like an archer, hunt like an archer, and you'll get your game with that smoothbore. Yes, you will have to pass some shots. Yes, you will see game you can't get a shot at. It's part of the deal and can be part of the allure.
What is better to hear or tell, the story of that 100 yard or more shot on an animal, that 300+ yard shot at an animal that had no chance to know the shooter was there,,,, or the tale of that hunter who snuck in, or did his homework and was able to position himself, to 75, 50, or less yards,,,, even if at the last moment the breeze turned traitor and blew the whole thing at the last second?

Something else I always ask hunters starting down the road of archery hunting or smoothbores regarding range. At what distance can you see a stick or something that could deflect your arrow or ball? Even if your bow or smoothbore is dialed in for that 75 or 100 yard shot, if you can't see that stick at 50 yards,,, should you be shooting at a living animal past that?
I have killed a lot of Deer and a few Elk but the most memorable was a Mule Deer in Colorado that I walked up to about 25 yards . Its was a test of stalking skill not long range shooting and I still think of that hunt very often it is satisying to know you have the skills to do a stalk
 

Brokennock

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I have killed a lot of Deer and a few Elk but the most memorable was a Mule Deer in Colorado that I walked up to about 25 yards . Its was a test of stalking skill not long range shooting and I still think of that hunt very often it is satisying to know you have the skills to do a stalk
I bet it would be as memorable even if at the last second the breeze swirled, or a doe you didn't see busted you, and you didn't get the shot.
But, I'm glad you did.

If one hunts before pulling the trigger, one shouldn't have to hunt much after pulling the trigger....
 

R Ellis

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I bet it would be as memorable even if at the last second the breeze swirled, or a doe you didn't see busted you, and you didn't get the shot.
But, I'm glad you did.

If one hunts before pulling the trigger, one shouldn't have to hunt much after pulling the trigger....
Very true I have not had a Deer run after the shot but one time the others dropped at shot the Elk have all ran a short way
 
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Well said, personally I’ve taken a Mulley under 50 with my Tradegun. But it’s not the norm. In the open country the Mulley’s prefer it becomes quite difficult.
Doc,
I would point out RMF and AF in the early MM days started moving trade rifles out to Indian nations. Before 1821 the US government had direct trade with Indian tribes, and had contract rifles as their guns. By the 1830s rifles were well available in Canada, and HBC was trading in what would become US territory.
they too had rifles to sell.
there never was a time when Smoothie’s didn’t out sell rifles
Most ‘Americans’ bought rifles, while Indians,Mexicans and French Canadians all grabbed smoothies. And smoothies were a part of every trappers brigade and every Santafe trail outfit. When the Oregon trail opened it would have been the rare settler that didn’t have a smoothie or two.
And tree cover was a lot less in much of the west then it is today.
 
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I gues the common consensus here is .62/20ga. Id like to add that personally I like my .66/16ga fowler. As it is my only muzzleloader I own to date. I live up the road from the West Virginia-Maryland border maybe 9 miles from Westernport,MD. The woods isnt too thick but isnt like a grassy plain either. I havent taken a deer with it yet as I just got her earlier this year. I definitely have hunted my fair share of paper targets and soda cans.
 
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